How-to Care for Your Shoes during Winter

The sight of snow floating gently from the heavenly sky to bless your neighborhood on the ground is one of the most beautiful sights you could hope to behold. But when the romance is over, you need to come to one harsh reality: it's winter and your shoes are in danger.

As beautiful as winter may be from the outside, walking around in the heart of inclement weather can cause your shoes to have sad faces, even winter boots. Wet weather conditions can break down the soft leathers of your shoes. Worse still, road salts that can damage your shoes are applied to roads, sidewalks, driveways, and stairs during the winter to melt away ice. The salt may protect you from slipping and falling onto the ground but it won't protect your shoes from developing terrible salt stains. Anything from pumps to loafers to heels, sandals, and casual shoes are susceptible to the woes of salt stains. Thankfully, there are some easy steps you can take to protect your shoes throughout the cold winter months.

  1. Polish your shoes. Polishing your shoes frequently does not just give them a clean, unscuffed look. It's also one of the most effective ways to waterproof your shoes. Polish your shoes by applying a matching shoe polish to the uppers of your shoes with a small cloth. Alternatively, you can purchase a water & stain protecting spray, applying to your shoes twice.
  2. Remove salt stains as soon as you notice them. To get rid of salt stains:
    • Mix a solution of half water and half white vinegar.
    • Dip a soft, white cloth (for suede shoes, use a nylon scrubber instead) into the solution and blot the stains with it until they are gone (do not rub the stains or they may spread).
    • Finally, dry the shoes with a small, dry cloth (for suede shoes, allow them to air dry indoors, away from direct sunlight).
  3. Clean your shoes frequently, meaning about once per month, during winter.
    • For most leathers, this means first wiping off any surface-level dirt or dust with a damp cloth.
    • Wipe your shoes down again with the damp cloth, but this time with soapy water. Wipe away the excess.
    • Finally, apply leather cleaner all over the shoes, both inside and out, then wipe away the excess. Let the shoes dry.
    • To clean suede or nubuck shoes, scrub the dirt away with a pencil eraser, an emery board, or fine sandpaper. After you're done, you can rub the shoes with a bath towel to restore the material's nappy texture.
  4. Clean your shoes again before storing them. If you plan on putting away your shoes until next winter, make sure there is no dirt or salt left on them or else it might stain permanently while they're in the closet.
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